Prelate's Trip to Poland

On Tuesday June 21, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz arrived in Poland, where he was welcomed by several families. On June 22 he received an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wrocław.

With some families from Poznan.

Friday, June 24

On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz celebrated Mass in the oratory of the Sołek center. A group of Opus Dei faithful attended, who at the end gave him the coat of arms of their city Poznan as a souvenir of his visit during these days.

He also came to say goodbye to those who are in touch with the Antrejka center for women. There was time for questions and brief work-related anecdotes. Agata, a veterinarian, asked him for ideas on how to bring colleagues at work and those who come to her clinic with their pets closer to God. “Friendship requires showing interest in what is important to others. If we are sincerely interested in the lives of others, they will also be interested in what is important to us,” the Prelate said.

Ewa, an architect, spoke about her doctoral thesis on beauty and how it can be a tool for evangelization. Monsignor Ocáriz agreed with her and stressed that “beauty is always closely related to truth.” Zuzia, who works as a psychiatrist in a clinic, asked for prayers for her colleagues, who are really putting their heart into their work.

Karolina showed him a photo album of the Antrejka club, which promotes various social initiatives and activities for young people. This year, among other things, they carried out volunteer work in a soup kitchen for homeless people in Wroclaw.

At the end there was time to sing together a song that Saint Josemaría liked a lot that speaks about fidelity. One of the verses of this song says that “it is worthwhile being faithful.” The Father mentioned that he had heard Saint Josemaría repeat in a low voice those words, “it is worthwhile, it is worthwhile being faithful,” when that song was being sung for him. At the end, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz gave everyone a blessing.

He then went to Filtrowa , an Opus Dei center for men where human and Christian formation is offered to university and high school students.

Mateusz, a doctoral candidate in physics (a field Monsignor Ocáriz also studied at the university) spoke about the research he is carrying out. Marcin shared his experience as a radio journalist during the pandemic time, while Adam, Michał and Tymoteusz shared some stories from the Starter Program, a series of activities to help high school students grow academically and personally. They also talked about the volunteer work carried out by participants in the program during the school year and holidays with needy persons in their city. They also mentioned how happy they were to see young people show great interest in culture, art, history and philosophy, disciplines that in today’s “culture of success” are often considered of little use. The Prelate encouraged them to continue developing these activities and said that it is very important to help people grow in wisdom.

At the end of the get-together, the Prelate of Opus Dei referred to the liturgical feast that was being celebrated in the Church and suggested praying together to ask for peace with the aspiration Cor Iesu Sacratissimum et misericors, dona nobis pacem (“Most Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus, grant us peace”), which Saint Josemaría often prayed. He stressed the need to pray for peace not only in a time of war, but also for peace in families and in our own hearts. Christ, he said, is the source from which true peace flows, and he reminded them of Saint Paul’s words referring to Christ: Ipse est pax nostra (cf. Eph 2:14), He is our peace. He also advised them to turn to our Lord when their heart is agitated, to regain peace.

In the afternoon, the Prelate of Opus Dei, accompanied by the regional vicar Stefan Moszoro-Dąbrowski, led a working meeting at the headquarters of the Regional Advisory, the governing body of the women of Opus Dei in Poland.

The day ended with Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament for the liturgical feast day and a brief get-together at the men’s center.

Thursday, June 23

Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz spent the day in Poznan, an entrepreneurial and university city where Opus Dei has been offering Christian formation for 25 years. The day began with Mass at Antrejka, a center of the Prelature. Some married couples who have taken part in the apostolic activities for many years attended.

In the morning, the Prelate met with a group of priests who receive spiritual assistance thanks to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross. He also visited Fara, one of the main churches in the city, where some relics of Saint Josemaría are kept.

At noon, he went to visit the Archbishop of Poznan and president of the Polish Bishops Conference, Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki.

In the afternoon, he met with faithful of Opus Dei and their families. Agnieszka right away congratulated him for Father’s Day, which is celebrated in Poland on June 23.

Alluding to the recent successes of a Polish tennis player, a sport he enjoys playing, Monsignor Ocáriz spoke about the need to have a person who accompanies us in the spiritual life, so that “we learn to run not only sprints, but also marathons.” He stressed that the goal of all Christians is to imitate Christ in their reactions and way of working and interacting with people. He also pointed to the figure of Saint John the Baptist as a model of an apostle. Just as the Precursor had said, referring to Jesus: He must increase, but I must decrease (Jn 3:30), so Christians should not be self-referential in their evangelizing efforts, but always direct people to our Lord.

Łukasz recounted how it has been a great lesson in generosity for his family to welcome a family of Ukrainian refugees. The impact reached beyond his home, as even distant relatives and neighbors became involved in helping out. He also spoke about how receiving Christian formation had helped him live his marriage better. The Prelate stressed the importance of spouses loving each other ever more, even if as time goes by some aspects of love become secondary

Beata told him the story of her own family and asked for advice on how to build a multigenerational family, when you are the oldest person among all the relatives.

Olena, of Ukrainian origin, asked about how to love your neighbor when it seems especially hard to do so and you experience rejection by the other person.

The day ended with a get-together at Sołek, a center of the Prelature, with people coming from a number of other cities. Finally, some songs that Saint Josemaría particularly liked were sung.

Wednesday, June 22

Bishop Józef Kupny, Bishop of Wrocław (Poland), presided over the Mass celebrated at 9 a.m. in the city's cathedral. Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz, among others, concelebrated. The academic authorities of the University of Wrocław and numerous faithful participated in the Eucharist.

In the homily, Bishop Damian Bryl (bishop of Kalisz, a town near Wrocław) spoke about the fruits by which those who faithfully announce the word of God will be known. He referred to the analysis found in Monsignor Ocáriz’s published works of the challenges presented by today's world. He pointed out that the Prelate of Opus Dei doesn’t confront these critically, but rather tries to identify the fundamental questions that people are concerned about today and find ways to open their heart to the light of the Gospel.

After the Mass, the academic act of investiture of the Honoris Causa doctorate took place in the nearby Pontifical Faculty of Theology. After the official welcome to the academic community and the laudatio (the traditional words of praise for the candidate) by the rector Prof. Włodzimierz Wołyniec, the faculty authorities presented the honorary title to the Prelate of Opus Dei.

The faculty counts among its honorary doctors Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Cardinal Gerhard Müller and other well-known theologians. In his address, Monsignor Ocáriz stressed the need for an adequate philosophy in a theology that seeks to place Christ at the center of its reflections. Especially important here are the concepts of “person” and “act of being,” which made possible the successive dogmatic definitions about the reality of Christ. He also stressed that the work of theologians is carried out within the Church’s faith, and therefore needs to be in communion with the Magisterium in service to the Church’s salvific mission. He also pointed to the special challenges presented today in striving to spread the truth of Christ’s message in a post-Christian culture.

After the investiture ceremony, the Prelate traveled to Poznań, where he went to pray at the Sanctuary of Saint Hyacinth in Legnica, the place where a Eucharistic miracle recognized by the Holy See took place in 2013. After a time of personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, he greeted a group of faithful. The parish priest, Father Andrzej Ziombra, told him about the spiritual fruits that the Eucharistic miracle is bringing to his parish. He also shared his joy and gratitude for the formational activities in his parish that are nourished by the spirit of Saint Josemaría.

The trip then continued to Sołek, a center of Opus Dei near Poznań, where the Prelate will stay for the next few days.

On June 25, the Prelate will celebrate Mass in Warsaw for the feast of Saint Josemaría. Before and after that date, he will meet with faithful and friends of the Prelature.

He will also pray at the tomb of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, beatified in September 2021, who played a decisive role in defending the Church and the country during the Cold War and the years of communist rule.

In addition, he will pay a visit to the president of the Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki.

Some photos from his visit:

Arriving in Wrocław.
Church of Divine Providence in Warsaw, where the Prelate will celebrate Mass on Saturday 25 June at 10 am for the feast of Saint Josemaria.